Wilson Urn

The Johnston Collection

Year in Review

2017 - 2018

supporting the work of contemporary artists, makers, designers and educators every day of the year

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WHAT WE DO

It was William Johnston’s intention that Fairhall be regularly rearranged and since it was first opened to the public in 1990, a regular program of re-installation and interventions of the permanent collection was established with creative individuals with a background in architecture, design, art, interiors, fashion and antiques, invited to rearrange (or ‘guest curate’) The Johnston Collection. From this three distinct annual exhibition series have emerged.

HOUSE OF IDEAS PROJECT SERIES

In this series, guest curators use Fairhall as a site-specific installation space to reconceptualise the Collection, often incorporating their own work, or loan items, in their reconstruction of the exhibition-house.

The House of Ideas series offers a radical interpretation of the Collection with the aim of generating new, diverse audiences.

CHRISTMAS AT THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION

Each year since 2004 The Johnston Collection has commissioned makers from a different region of Victoria to create new works inspired by aspects of the Collection, or relating to the life of William Johnston, or by Christmas itself. This exhibition promotes the work of regional makers to a large state-wide audience as well as promoting contemporary responses to the Collection by encouraging makers to explore new contemporary practices and ideas. Christmas at The Johnston Collection offers an ‘inspired’ interpretation of the Collection.

WILLIAM JOHNSTON AND HIS COLLECTION

In this series individuals from the wider community are invited to rearrange Fairhall, generally using only the items in the Collection. William Johnston and his Collection series offers a ‘traditional’ interpretation of the Collection.

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Robyn Rich fabric veggies in The Kitchen

FEAST

CHRISTMAS AT THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION 2017 | 2018

(2 October 2017 - 31 January 2018)

In this survey exhibition, outstanding works from the previous four years of Christmas exhibitions were selected to be reshown, allowing us to look back and celebrate the breadth of talent and the diverse approaches of our local makers who work across a whole range of media.

With works inspired by William Johnston and his collection, the exhibition re-presented the work of artists and guilds from Mornington Peninsula (2013-2014), Geelong and the Surf Coast (2014-2015), Gippsland (2015-2016) and Melbourne (2016-2017).

This exhibition showed artists and makers challenging traditional making, thinking, and practice with their contemporary responses to the Collection, along with more traditional responses reflecting historical techniques, materials, and making.

“A must visit...The Christmas theme is always amazing. So many incredible skills on show.”

Carole Stubley Facebook 13 November 2017

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ANOTHER LOOK

WILLIAM JOHNSTON: His Residence & Collection

(1 February 2018 – 31 May 2018)

This exhibition was based around an original arrangement concept for William Johnston’s collection in Fairhall by architect Peter Lovell, highlighting Johnston’s love of India and especially Calcutta that, in later years, became his favourite place to visit to replenish his shop stock.

For the first time the sumptuous Green Drawing Room was presented as a grand Indian-inspired Durbar room. This arrangement included the magnificent ‘salon suite’ – one of the many significant items Johnston acquired over his lifetime - purchased from the sale of vice-regal furniture from government House, Calcutta (now known as Raj Bhavan, Kolkata).

"Unique & fascinating glimpse into a collectors world."

Clifyyyy from TripAdvisor, 23 May 2018

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PATTERNS OF COLLECTING | FROM THE BOWER

House of Ideas project series 2018

(4 June 2018 - 18 September 2018)

 

This touring exhibition featured artwork and items from the unique personal collections of four contemporary Victorian artists: Loris Button, Deborah Klein, Louise Saxton, and Carole Wilson. Their studio collections which ranged from curiosities, natural history specimens, memorabilia, discarded books, china, textiles and old tools of trade, were installed in Fairhall alongside and responding to William Johnston’s collection.

PATTERNS OF COLLECTING explored the ways in which objects are collected and ideas around the notion of a bower and a woman’s private space.

“This very personal exhibition invites the audience to see the created environments gathered from the artists’ workspace with their collections revealing as much about the artist as their own work.”

Louis Le Vaillant, Director | Curator of The Johnston Collection

“It was sooooo wonderful! Brilliant to see collections within a collection. Amazing artists! Congratulations to all involved…”

@paulcomptonart Instagram 4 June 2018

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SPECIAL MENU TOURS 2017 | 2018

In addition to the three main exhibition-house tours, special menu tours are presented throughout the year focusing on particular areas of the Collection. Menu tours offer a further way to experience and enjoy the Collection by allowing visitors to explore hidden aspects and interior details of items in the Collection that ordinarily go unnoticed during regular tours of Fairhall.

UNLOCKING THE COLLECTION

By 'unlocking' the doors, lids and covers of objects, this specially developed tour offers visitors the opportunity to see the intriguing hidden aspects and interior details of items in Fairhall.

Unlocking The Collection tours were presented on 3 July, 2017, 10 August 2017, 11 September 2017, 26 February 2018, 29 March 2018, 16 April 2018, 10 May 2018, and 25 June 2018.

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BLOOM

This special tour explored the social and cultural histories of botanical motifs through their representation on porcelain, printings, furniture and other decorative objects in the Collection.


Bloom tours were presented on 19 July 2017, 5 September 2017, 24 April 2018, and 20 June 2018.

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LECTURES & STUDY SERIES

 

This year The Johnston Collection presented more than 40 lectures, talks, study series, and master classes featuring local and international speakers on a diverse and engaging range of topics.

 

See Appendix 5 for a full list of our 2018 Lectures and Study Series program.

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Dulcie Deamer in leopard skin costume (worn to the Artists Ball)

STUDY SERIES | PRETTY WILD

This eight-part study series explored the themes of animals and design and was developed to accompany the concurrent Fairhall exhibition, ANIMAL KINGDOM.

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Portrait of Duleep Singh, Maharajah of Lahore (1837-93)

STUDY SERIES |

DR EUGENE BARILO VON REISBERG

Eugene Barilo Von Reisberg, lecturer, researcher, and art consultant presented four lectures focusing on the British and European monarchies.

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EXCLUSIVE MASTERCLASS SERIES | THE ROYAL COLLECTORS

A series of four lectures presented by Oliver Everett, Librarian Emeritus of the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, UK. The series focused on British royal collectors and their collections.

 

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EXCLUSIVE MASTERCLASS |

THE FRENCH REFLECT ON THE NEW WORLD

Presented by Bertrand Van Ruymbeke, Professor of American History, Université de Paris 8 (University of Vincennes in Saint-Denis), France.

 

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VAMFF ARTS PROGRAM SERIES 2018

The Johnston Collection was a participant in the VAMFF Arts Program Series 2018 with a series of three lectures exploring contemporary and historical fashion.

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STUDY SERIES | luxury threads

This three-part study series presented by Susan Scollay, an independent art historian specialising in Islamic art and culture and historic textiles, and Catherine Kovesi, an historian of Early Modern Italy, explored the role of luxury textiles and costume in promoting status and power during the 15th to 18th centuries.

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STUDY SERIES | THE ART OF INDIA

This four-part study series exploring the themes of India and the British Raj was developed to accompany the concurrent exhibition ANOTHER LOOK.

 

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Sylvia Sagona Study Series Painting Virtue

THE SYLVIA SAGONA STUDY SERIES | PAINTING VIRTUE

Sylvia Sagona, specialist on 19th century French society presented a three-part study series looking at how new subject matter in painting was created during times of social and political upheaval in Europe. 

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VISITORS

The Johnston Collection is in a residential area and operates within the terms set out in its City of Melbourne planning permit which stipulates that the museum can have no more than 72 visitors through Fairhall exhibition-house and 33 people attending a lecture in the Kent Room per day.

This year The Johnston Collection welcomed 4,851 visitors. Of these, 3,817 visited Fairhall exhibition-house and 1034 attended lectures, study series and master classes usually held in the Kent Room. [See Appendix 2] Attendance at our lectures increased by more than 4% but visitors to our exhibitions this year were 17% lower than the previous year resulting in total visitor numbers being down 13% overall in 2018.


This is the quintessential bijou museum and one of Melbourne’s hidden gems …

Justine H. TripAdvisor 31 August 2107


“This is one of Melbourne’s hidden gems…Thank you for an enriching experience…”

annelockett#4 TripAdvisor 13 October 2017


The Johnson Collection is a wonderful experience.

Gail C. TripAdvisor 19 June 2018

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ENGAGING WITH THE COMMUNITY

The Johnston Collection participates in a number of major Melbourne events  throughout the year offering programmatic collaborations aimed at strengthening our ties and connections with local Melbourne communities, and providing additional opportunities for everyone to enjoy the Collection.

OPEN HOUSE MELBOURNE 2017 | 10 YEARS OF INSPIRING ARCHITECTURE
29 July 2017

VICTORIAN SENIORS FESTIVAL 2017
9 - 13 October 2017

GOVERNMENT HOUSE OPEN DAY 2018
26 January 2018

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA MELBOURNE FASHION FESTIVAL ARTS PROGRAM 2018
1 – 18 March 2018

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MELBOURNE FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL | BIJI DINING MEETS BIJOUX MUSEUM

Contemporary Indian food meets Colonial Indian grandeur.
19 & 20 March 2018

 

“Thank you so much for the fabulous food and enjoyable tour last night. It was a wonderful way to introduce my daughter … to The Johnston Collection.”

Marlene Crowther text message 21 March 2018

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EDUCATION

The Johnston Collection offers post
graduate students curatorial placements as well as offering the Collection and Fairhall exhibition house to students as a subject for postgraduate research. The Johnston Collection also partners with local universities to bring student groups to the museum as part of their coursework. Student groups visiting this year included RMIT University School of Art, RMIT University School of Architecture and Urban Design, and University of Melbourne School of Culture and Communication.
“The visit to The Johnston Collection is always a highlight for the students…and we are very grateful for …The Johnston Collection’s support of our curatorship course.”

Alison Inglis, Associate Professor, Art History, School of Culture & Communication, University of Melbourne Letter, 16 May 2018

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THE FRIENDS OF THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION EVENTS

The Friends of The Johnston Collection is a dynamic group of supporters who are committed to the arts while providing vital support for the museum. In 2018 The Friends Committee organised a number of exclusive events and activities for members.
 
See Appendix 6 for a full list of The Friends events in 2018
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VOLUNTEER EVENTS

A variety of events were organised for TJC volunteers throughout the year in recognition of the invaluable support they provide to the museum.

CELEBRATE AT THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION | VOLUNTEERS END OF YEAR FUNCTION
23 November 2017

VOLUNTEERS DAY OUT | PT. LEO SCULPTURE PARK, MERRICKS
18 May 2018

VOLUNTEERS OUTING | COMO FASHION QUARTER EXHIBITION
8 June 2018

VOLUNTEER GUIDE TRAINING DAYS
Training days enable volunteer guides to learn about and practise their presentations for each new exhibition. This year Guide Training Days were held on 28 September 2017 for FEAST | Christmas at The Johnston Collection 2017/2018; on 8 February 2018 for ANOTHER LOOK | William Johnston; and on 31 May 2018 for PATTERNS OF COLLECTING | From the Bower.

VOLUNTEER INFORMATION SHARING DAYS
Information Sharing Days for all volunteers including Trustees, Ambassadors, The Friends of The Johnston Collection Committee, Volunteer Guides, Volunteers and staff were held on 20 September 2017 and 15 March 2018.

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INSTAGRAM


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Instagram

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MEDIA

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AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW


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INTERCONTINENTAL

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AWARDS

The Johnston Collection was Highly Commended in the 2017 Victorian Museum Awards in the Archival Survival Award for Small Museums for HOUSE OF DREAMS | Barking Spider Visual Theatre (12 July 2016 – 20 September 2016)

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PUBLICATIONS

This year The Johnston Collection produced more than 30 publications, videos, catalogues and essays. These included:

fairhall issues # 21 (July 2017), # 22 (October 2017) and # 23 (March 2018); What’s On Spring | Summer (digital brochure); and four edited videos capturing each exhibition: ANIMAL KINGDOM | House of Ideas series 2017; FEAST | Christmas at the Johnston Collection 2017|18; and ANOTHER LOOK | William Johnston: His Residence & Collection.

 

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SHOP


This year The Johnston Collection Shop had a profit increase of 7.8% over the previous year, with shop sales contribution to overall revenue rising from 3% last year (2017) to 5% in 2018.

…Beautiful gift shop.

Anne L. Trip Advisor October 2017

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ACQUISITIONS

In keeping with The Johnston Collection’s Deed of Trust (1 June 1987) which states that the Collection ‘shall also include other antiques and/ or arts works which by any means and at any time may be added to The WR Johnston Collection’, a number of items were acquired for the Collection this year through gifts and purchases from bequest funds.

The Johnston Collection Ambassador, Andrew Dixon, generously provided funds for the purchase of eight items, including exemplary examples of 18th and early 19th century porcelain from both the Coalport and Worcester porcelain factories; Bill and Deirdre Brown generously gifted two 19th century French earthenware cat figures in the style of Émile Gallé; and interest accrued on The Nina Stanton Bequest enabled the purchase of nine items including the 18th century Bow porcelain set of figures, (set of the Four Seasons consisting of Spring; Autumn; Summer; Winter), England, circa 1748-1776.

See Appendix 8 for a full list of acquisitions

 

 

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APPENDICES:

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Image Credits

Aaron Bertelsen at door with bowl

detail of illustration from The Great Dixter Cookbook | Recipes From An English Garden Aaron Bertelsen published by Phaidon (2017)

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